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College Application Essay

Stand Out

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Admissions officers receive thousands of applications every year. From a huge stack of academic records, they have to find the students who will make classes interesting and engaging.

Help them choose you.

The application essay is your chance to distinguish yourself from the rest of the crowd. It should be clear, well written, and have a unique point of view. Your statement of purpose should be solid and focused, and your story should be compelling.

If that seems like a lot to handle - don't worry. We can help you get there.

Our writing instructors are hand-picked from top schools by our director, Marea Gordett. Having taught advanced writing at Tufts University, she understands what the great schools are looking for, and knows how to convey these points to your student.

Focused on helping students stand out in a positive way, the Big Mind Learning instructors help you navigate the waters of college applications, and get moving towards rewarding careers.

Read this article about writing your college essay: Matters of Opinion, in The Spotlight

Writer: Tyese Fraser
Broadalbin-Perth High School
Broadalbin, NY
Attends Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts

Applying a copious amount of sunscreen is how I spent every summer. As soon as the threat of sun was near, I would slab the white creamy SPF 50 protection shield onto my vulnerable exposed caramel toned skin. The reason for my religious obsession with sunscreen was not for the deflection of UVA/UVB rays. I used it because I believed it would keep my already dark skin from getting darker. My unusual dislike for the hyper-pigmentation rays of the sun (considering the national obsession with tanning) has developed from my racial uniqueness.

Being the only non-Caucasian child in my limitedly diverse farm town school, I had trouble finding my place. While everyone else was trying to gain a darker complexion, I was doing the opposite. For some reason I believed that the lighter I kept my skin color, the less I would stand out from my peers. I had spent years of my elementary, middle and even a portion of my high school life following a philosophy that was based on a deeper insecurity that I felt.

I had friends, but not a large amount of friends during my school years. As I grew older I began to take note of this and created the illusion that it was because I did not fit in. In my head I knew that my assumptions were ridiculous but my emotions were saying otherwise. My efforts to conform even extended to straightening my hair 7 days a week just so I could feel like I belonged. The lack of diversity in my area made me uncomfortable. I would always ask myself why I didn’t look like the typical straight haired, light skinned American. Or so I thought was the normal image of a typical American girl. Though my insecurities were not created from discrimination, I could still feel an ominous presence of being the odd one out.

My opinion changed when one day before a track practice, in 95-degree weather, I had forgotten my sunscreen. I began to worry. I did not want my skin to get any darker than it already was. The next day I had tan lines galore, and my complexion was 2 shades darker. But that’s when I realized that I was not any different than I was the day before. I still had the same friends, same ideals, and personality. My irrational fear of the sun sprang from my insecurities as a person. My outlook on life changed after that day. I started to embrace my ethnic skin tone and limited the number of days that I straightened my hair, saving about two hours in my morning routine.

I still stand out very much in school, but instead of rejecting it, I embrace it. I love my mini fro and year round tan. To this day I still wear sunscreen, but this is more out of habit than for a purpose. Without my sunscreen obsession, I don’t need to try to conform to society. It has already accepted me.

Writer: Preston Miller
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School
Burnt Hills, New York
Attended Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts

“You’re doing what with your summer?” is what my friend Kyle said when I first told him up my upcoming summer internship. He was under the impression that we would be spending the summer making music with our rock band, and I had to break the news that my availability might be somewhat of an issue. “It’s for my Science Research class,” I responded to him as well as to most of my other friends. Apparently eight unpaid hours a day for four days a week at a professional nanotechnology research institution didn’t exactly seem like the most glorious way to spend those three months of freedom. I, unlike my peers, was excited deep down, and at the very least curious as to what this interesting new opportunity would be like. After all, I still had weekends, right?

Despite my friends’ valiant efforts at keeping me from the laboratory that would be consuming my summer, I began work at Albany Nanotech Institute, at the University at Albany. To be honest, I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that I would be given the tools and facilities that would allow me to work on my own project: designing a system that would be able to monitor the pitch of a helicopter’s flight. Upon walking in for the first time, my impression was one of intimidation. This was the real deal, and to someone who had seen labs only in the movies, it was somewhat overwhelming. Compared to most of the people working there, who had basically memorized Madou’s Fundamentals of Microfabrication, I was nothing more than a lowly high school student.

However, I worked intensely on my project, and even went back the next summer. At any point, I could have stopped, could have simply let people know it wasn’t for me. Yet I knew there was something about this job at Albany Nanotech that kept me interested and kept my desire alive. I discovered one day, upon witnessing the seamless running of a computer program that I wrote for my project, that the feeling I longed for was one of basic accomplishment. Whether I understood a new formula, comprehended an article or finally got my system design to work, I wouldn’t trade the feeling of success and personal triumph for anything in the world.

I would love to be able to spend much of my free time writing songs and playing them on my guitar, but I’ve found that there are other ways in which I can express myself creatively. The field of science and technology, specifically nanotechnology, is the perfect outlet for me. Not only is the idea of working with infinitesimally small materials appealing enough alone, but it seems as though nanotechnology is what science has been driving toward all these years. At a time when the world needs it most, I feel that technology will be able to solve many of our complex problems in the coming years. This is why science is so exciting to me. I’ve always been skeptical whenever I’ve heard the phrase “anything is possible,” but with nanotechnology, I sincerely believe that to be true.

Writer: Gianna Mancini
Fonda-Fultonville High School
Attending Boston College

This college application essay is a response to the following prompt:

Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?

It is stained with remnants of pen and paint from countless school projects and essays. It is a tangled web of experiences, emotions and a buffet for the senses. This block of wood is my source of satisfaction. At my kitchen table, I find contentment and all the amazing things it can do in all aspects of my life. This table has taught me to stay humble and collected amid tragedy and triumph alike. It is where I first sat with Joanie, a reading specialist and last resort in an attempt to avoid failing kindergarten. It is at this table that I discovered I had to learn differently. I was a visual learner. To this day, when I read, I create mini movies in my mind. Sitting at my kitchen table, I read to my family proudly for the first time, a story I wrote and illustrated myself. I learned that day that it is one thing to overcome a challenge, but it’s quite another to embrace it, to take advantage of it in a way that makes it an experience you want more of.

Listening to family stories of failed ventures that led to greater successes, it was at this table that I learned the necessary power of failure in finding the best possible and most creative solutions. I realized that the promise of opportunity inspires a desire to embrace risk. It was at this table that my grandmother would constantly remind us that “God never closes a door without opening a window.” And my father would add to this, explaining how although it is much easier to walk through an open door, there is much to be gained from the satisfaction of successfully engineering the perfect schematics to navigate through the small space of a window. I have learned to engineer a way to squeeze through even the smallest windows when faced with personal challenges. Gathered at the table with friends and family, I learned deeper approaches to problem solving, those revelations about life that you can only acquire while being part of others’ lives.

On the evening of my grandfather’s funeral, it was at this table that we gathered to eat homemade spaghetti with sauce made from the tomatoes he had canned from his garden. Family members stopped by and stories were told late into the night. It was where I learned more about my grandfather in his death than I had during his life. His smiles, forever alive in my memories, were enough to influence the path that I would set for myself and the attitude with which I would face life. His kind, generous disposition had not become embittered by his endless battles in life. It was at this table that I discovered that pain can be just as beautiful as joy and are ironically two sides of the same emotion.

On holidays, relatives would linger at the table for hours, creating memories of my funniest moments, loudest discussions and soundest advice, sending me into each new year a confident, inquisitive person armed with humor. Discussions at the table inspired us to be ourselves, share experiences and stand up for personal beliefs through vivid and heartfelt stories, allowing us to think from multiple vantage points and develop a nuanced perspective. Marathon long meals were spent exploring the similarities between diverse topics like entrepreneurship and religion.

The images are concrete and emotional. I am a kaleidoscope of every conversation. And now as I prepare to leave my home of 18 years, I realize all the beautiful lessons this table has brought me. Carved into the wood are my most cherished childhood memories. My table is a constant and unwavering supply of tender attention giving me the confidence to pursue whatever dreams I desire. At this table, I have amassed a lifetime of experiences and I look forward to having future professors provide frameworks to hang them on.